Originally published at UFC 265 Report: Ciryl Gane stops Derrick Lewis to claim interim title
UFC 265 Report: Ciryl Gane stops Derrick Lewis to claim Interim Heavyweight Championship
UFC 265 took place on Saturday night, from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The card was headlined by a bout between fan favorite Derrick Lewis and the undefeated Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight championship. It was a puzzling creation of an interim championship, as the division’s champion, Francis Ngannou, has not been in the slightest bit inactive, but the card needed a headliner, and the promotion felt as though the fight needed an interim title attached to it. Gane has been one of the quickest rising fighters since entering the UFC, winning all six of his UFC bouts in a decisive fashion. It felt as though it would only be a matter of time before he found himself in a title fight, and that came together even quicker than people expected when the interim title was attached to this fight against Lewis. For Lewis, a brutal knockout win over Curtis Blaydes highlighted a four-fight win streak that brought him back into title contention. There is no question that Lewis has earned his place among the top heavyweights of the division, and one more knockout would move him into sole possession of the record for most knockouts in UFC history. The co-main event was originally set to feature Amanda Nunes defending her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship against Julianna Peña, but the fight was removed from the card following Nunes testing positive for COVID-19. In its place, the legendary Jose Aldo faced a long-time veteran of the UFC’s bantamweight division, Pedro Munhoz.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz, and Daniel Cormier. Performance bonuses were awarded to Ciryl Gane, Vicente Luque, Jessica Penne, and Miles Johns. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Bobby Green and Rafael Fiziev. The reported attendance for this card was 16,604, with a gate of $3,460,000.
*Johnny Munoz def. Jamey Simmons by rear-naked choke at 2:35 of Round 2
*Melissa Gatto def. Victoria Leonardo by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2
*Miles Johns def. Anderson dos Santos by KO at 1:16 of Round 3
*Manel Kape def. Ode Osbourne by KO at 4:44 of Round 1
*Jessica Penne def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by armbar at 4:32 of Round 1
*Alonzo Menifield def. Ed Herman by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Vince Morales def. Drako Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Rafael Fiziev def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Yadong Song def. Casey Kenney by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Tecia Torres def. Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Vicente Luque def. Michael Chiesa by D’Arce choke at 3:25 of Round 1
*Jose Aldo def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Ciryl Gane def. Derrick Lewis by TKO at 4:11 of Round 3 to win the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship
JOHNNY MUNOZ (10-1, 135.5) VS JAMEY SIMMONS (7-3, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
The first half of the opening round was rather slow, with neither fighter able to connect with anything of significance early. Munoz got clipped by a right hand trying to change levels, which was probably the most impactful strike of the first round. With roughly thirty seconds remaining in the round, Munoz was able to secure a takedown and end the round in a good position. Close round.
Munoz changed levels and brought Simmons back to the ground a minute into the second round. He quickly took the back of Simmons, flattened him out, and locked in the rear-naked choke, forcing Simmons to tap out.
WINNER: Johnny Munoz by rear-naked choke at 2:35 of Round 2
It was a slow start to the fight, but once Munoz was able to get the fight to the ground, he knew how to capitalize on the position and secure the win. Munoz took his first fight in the UFC on short notice, and despite losing that fight on the scorecards (I scored that one in his favor) he impressed me with his grappling early in that fight. He showcased more of that here, and this time it resulted in the second-round finish. He is now 1-1 in the UFC, and this marked his fourth professional win by rear-naked choke.
VICTORIA LEONARDO (8-3, 125) VS MELISSA GATTO (6-0-2, 124) – FLYWEIGHT
Gatto tripped Leonardo to the ground early. Leonardo was able to power her way into top position, but it was Gatto who continued to attack with submissions, and Gatto was able to transition to Leonardo’s back. Leonardo shook her off of her back and began to work from the guard of Gatto once more. Late in the round, they made it back to the feet, where Gatto immediately looked to bring the fight back down, but Leonardo was able to defend the attempt, and the round ended on the feet.
Leonardo was getting tagged by Gatto’s jab in the second round. She eventually attempted to bring the fight back to the ground, but Gatto defended the takedown and swarmed Leonardo with strikes in response. At the end of the round, Leonardo told her corner that her right arm isn’t working, and the doctor was brought in. He felt her arm, informed the referee that it was broken, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Melissa Gatto by TKO at 5:00 of Round 2
As Dominick Cruz noted on commentary, you could visibly see a dent in her arm, although it was unclear what exchange caused the break. She has injured that arm previously, so this was a very unfortunate injury for Leonardo, who was game to step back in for the third round despite the injury. As far as the fight is concerned, I thought Gatto controlled things on the ground as well as the feet, and this was a very solid performance for her UFC debut.
MILES JOHNS (11-1, 136) VS ANDERSON DOS SANTOS (21-11, 135.5) – FLYWEIGHT
The story of this opening round was the leg kicks of Miles Johns. He did a ton of damage to the lead leg of dos Santos early, and his movement was looking compromised by the halfway point of the round. Anderson dos Santos was still moving forward despite his limp, but largely, he was getting tagged by Johns on the feet. This was a very strong five minutes for Brett Johns.
Johns continued to land hard shots in the second round. He was catching dos Santos with hooks as he moved forward, and dropped him momentarily with a leg kick. I don’t think there was ever a point in which dos Santos was ever “out” of this fight, but it was becoming increasingly more one-sided as the damage continued to pile up, specifically to the lead leg of dos Santos.
Just over a minute into the final round, Johns tagged dos Santos with a body shot, and followed it up with a powerful hook to the head, knocking dos Santos out cold.
WINNER: Miles Johns by KO at 1:16 of Round 3
This fight was largely one-sided, with dos Santos never really getting out of the gates after taking so much damage to his legs early. The knockout was about as clean of a finish as you’ll see, and this was a real highlight finish for Miles Johns. I thought this was far and away his best performance in the UFC thus far, and he is now 3-1 in the promotion, with back-to-back knockouts.
MANEL KAPE (15-6, 129) VS ODE OSBOURNE (9-3, 1 NC, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Kape missed weight by 3lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.
Kape did a good job of avoiding Osbourne’s early offense. His own output wasn’t overwhelming, but he was landing hard shots when he did throw. Osbourne caught him with a pair of strong counter left hands, but in the end, it was Kape who landed a perfectly timed flying knee that knocked Osbourne unconscious.
WINNER: Manel Kape by KO at 4:44 of Round 1
Kape would have been a lock for a performance bonus if he didn’t miss weight here. This was a fantastic knockout, showcasing exactly what we have been waiting to see from Kape since his UFC debut. He came off as very charismatic in his post-fight interview, although his demand for a bonus was shut down by Daniel Cormier, who reminded him that he did not qualify for one after missing weight. While the drastic weight miss definitely took something away from this result, this was exactly the type of performance Kape needed after two decision losses to start his run in the UFC.
KAROLINA KOWALKIEWICZ (12-6, 115) VS JESSICA PENNE (13-5, 116) – STRAWWEIGHT
Bruce Buffer absolutely butchered “Kowalkiewicz” during the introductions. Shortly into the fight, Kowalkiewicz tripped Penne to the ground and chose to engage her in her guard. Penne immediately picked herself up, secured a takedown of her own, and began to work from top position. Cormier and Cruz were bickering all fight about the type of takedown Penne used, as well as the pronunciation of Kowalkiewicz’s name. Penne began to work from an armbar and was able to secure it as Kowalkiewicz attempted an ill-advised slam, ultimately forcing Kowalkiewicz to submit.
WINNER: Jessica Penne by armbar at 4:32 of Round 1
Kowalkiewicz’s decision to grapple with Penne was somewhat puzzling, and it led to Penne getting the quick finish on the ground. As one would probably expect going into this, Penne had the clear grappling advantage, looking very sharp with her submission game. Penne has won her last two fights, and this was her first stoppage victory since 2013. For Kowalkiewicz, the former title challenger has now lost five consecutive fights, and one has to imagine this might have been her final octagon appearance.
ALONZO MENIFIELD (10-2, 204.5) VS ED HERMAN (26-14, 1 NC, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Menifield was landing the better shots early. Herman landed a powerful check hook, but there seemed to be a clear advantage in the speed department for Menifield. He connected with a trio of strong calf kicks that Herman reacted to. Herman’s leg was beginning to swell up following the leg kicks, and I thought Menifield took this opening round. 10-9 Menifield.
Herman attempted to grab Menifield’s back following a brief trip, but Menifield powered right back to his feet, and just began to unload on Herman against the cage. Herman did his best to defend himself from Menifield’s onslaught and landed an uppercut to back him off. Still, Menifield landed some huge shots throughout this round, and it really just speaks to Herman’s durability that he was able to wear them as well as he did. Menifield connected with another strong leg kick that had Herman limping, and I definitely had him up on the scorecards going into the final round. 20-18 Menifield.
The doctor was brought in between rounds to check on the leg of Herman, and despite the significant damage, it was determined that he could continue. As the final round began, Menifield tripped Herman to the ground and landed some heavy ground and pound. He began to work from side control, but he returned to his feet, allowing Herman to stand back up. Jon Anik mentioned that he received a text message from Joe Rogan about calf kicks changing the game, which almost broke me. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 for Alonzo Menifield.
WINNER: Alonzo Menifield by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Herman had his moments throughout the fight, but by and large, this was a pretty dominant win for Alonzo Menifield. The leg kicks were perhaps the biggest difference-maker, forcing Herman to practically fight on one leg for the majority of the contest. Menifield is now 4-2 in the UFC, and this was his first career victory by way of decision.
VINCE MORALES (9-5, 136) VS DRAKO RODRIGUEZ (7-2, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Rodriguez began the fight with a stiff jab. There were a lot of feints on both sides here, leading to prolonged periods of inactivity throughout the round. Morales connected with an overhand right and attempted a takedown to no success towards the end of the round. 10-9 Morales.
Morales landed a hard right hand and tripped Rodriguez to the ground to begin round two. He allowed Rodriguez back to his feet, promoting Rodriguez to even the score with a takedown of his own. Morales wouldn’t be held down for long, but he found himself with his back to the cage for a prolonged period of time. Another close round, but I gave the edge to Rodriguez this time. 19-19.
Dominick Cruz theorized that the action was really going to pick up in this round, but unfortunately, that really wasn’t the case. While neither man really had a moment throughout the round that you would look at as a game-changer, and they had a very similar output, I gave the edge to Morales based on the impact of the strikes he was landing. If you gave it to Rodriguez, I wouldn’t argue with that at all. 29-8 Morales.
WINNER: Vince Morales by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
While Morales got the nod unanimously, this was a close fight. Neither man did much to separate themselves, and it led to a fairly slow fifteen-minute fight. Still, even if it wasn’t the most impressive win, this was a much-needed result for Morales, who came into this fight with a UFC record of 1-3. Rodriguez fell to 0-2 in the promotion with this loss, but this was certainly an improvement over his first performance in the company, where he missed weight dramatically before getting knocked out in the opening round.
BOBBY GREEN (27-11-1, 156) VS RAFAEL FIZIEV (9-1, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Green landed the first significant shots of the fight, a pair of straight left hands. Both men were taunting, and Fiziev was throwing out some lightning-quick combinations. Green was doing a good job of rolling out of the way of some of Fiziev’s big shots, but he wasn’t responding with the shots he needed to in order to win these exchanges. Fiziev landed a number of body kicks throughout the round and connected with an elbow towards the end of the first. 10-9 Fiziev.
Fiziev was really swinging for the fences to begin this second round. He continued to throw heavy kicks to the legs and body, and he hurt Bobby Green against the cage with a pair of clean right hands. Green fired back after Fiziev’s flurries, landing some body shots of his own. In the final minute of the round, there were some wild exchanges, resulting in Green eating a sharp elbow that drew some blood from his nose. 20-18 Fiziev.
With Fiziev likely up two rounds going into the third, Bobby Green really had to turn it on here, and that’s exactly what he did. Green’s output throughout this round was incredible, and while Fiziev was still throwing a ton himself, it was Green who appeared to have significantly more gas left in the tank here. The crowd was rallying behind Bobby Green, who was clipping Fiziev with beautifully timed straights towards the end of the round, taking the final five minutes on my scorecard. 29-28 Fiziev.
WINNER: Rafael Fiziev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
This was a really fun, hard-hitting fight. Out of all of the preliminary bouts, I think this was the one that just about everyone was most excited about going into this card, and it completely lived up to those expectations. I have no earthly idea how one judge saw the third round for Fiziev, and honestly, that’s the type of decision that a judge should be held accountable for, where there is really no justification for their score. Fiziev jokingly (I assume) called out Hasbulla in his post-fight interview.
YADONG SONG (16-5-1, 1 NC, 135.5) VS CASEY KENNEY (16-3-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
They had some very quick exchanges in the pocket early. Song connected with a heavy kick to the body, prompting Kenney to dig into Song’s body in response. Both fighters were doing good work here, and this was a very close opening round. Towards the end of the round, Kenney secured a takedown and attempted a front choke, but Song didn’t have any issues defending the submission, ending the round back on the feet. 10-9 Song.
Despite largely being on the backfoot, I thought Song was doing a good job of timing Kenney and was actually out landing him on the strike count. He also seemed to pack a bit more behind his punches, while defending Kenney’s attempts to bring the fight down. They exchanged leg kicks, as well as left hooks in the final minute. 20-18 Song.
The fight continued at a similar pace in the third round. Kenney landed a head kick at one point, that Song just ate. Song responded with a hard kick to the body, before defending another takedown attempt from Kenney. This was a very close round, but yet again I thought Song took it with his striking, despite a late takedown from Kenney. 30-27 Song
WINNER: Yadong Song by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
I wasn’t surprised to see that the scorecards were all over the place here. It was a very close fight, with Kenney having the slight grappling advantage and forward pressure, versus the effective striking from Song. Ultimately, I think the right fighter got his arm raised here, although Kenney seemed beyond shocked by the decision. Song has largely impressed in the UFC, and this was a strong way to rebound from his first loss in the promotion. Song is now 6-1-1 in the UFC.
TECIA TORRES (12-5, 115) VS ANGELA HILL (13-9, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Torres and Hill fought previously, at UFC 188 in June of 2015. Torres won that fight by unanimous decision.
The commentators reflected on UFC 188 to begin the fight, treating us to some sea level Cain Velasquez discussion. Hill was attempting to bring Torres to the ground, but she was unable to get her down and hold her there for any prolonged period of time. I thought Torres was doing a very good job of going on the attack whenever Hill closed the distance, really keeping Angela from getting much off. Torres landed a strong flurry towards the end of the round. 10-9 Torres.
Torres continued to fight at a remarkable pace in the second round. Hill was landing better counters on her end throughout this round but still couldn’t get Torres to the ground, which seemed to be part of her gameplan for this fight. Torres partially landed a spinning head kick and connected with some powerful right hands during a break from the clinch. This was another strong round from Tecia Torres, who I had up 20-18 going into round three.
Hills corner told her that the fight was tied going into the third round, which was poor advice for a fighter who really needed a finish. I thought this was the closest round of the fight, with a similar level of output from both fighters, but Torres still seemed to be packing a bit more on her punches and finished the fight with a takedown. 30-27 Torres.
WINNER: Tecia Torres by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Not long ago, Tecia Torres was on a four-fight losing streak, and while all those losses were to top-level fighters, it felt as though she was very much on the downswing at strawweight. Now, she’s won three fights in a row and has really re-established her place in the division. I also don’t think it would be hyperbole to say that Torres has looked as good as she ever has in the UFC throughout these last few fights, and I think she has earned another fight against a top ten fighter in the division. Off the top of my head, Claudia Gadelha and Nina Nunes would both make for sensible next opponents.
MICHAEL CHIESA (18-4, 170.5) VS VICENTE LUQUE (20-7-1, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
Luque landed a strong leg kick about a minute into the fight. Chiesa was actually landing some really sharp strikes on the feet, cutting Luque open below his left eye. Luque pushed forward and landed a right hook that appeared to drop Chiesa, although it may have been more of a slip than a knockdown. Chiesa took Luque down, and he quickly worked his way onto Luque’s back. He began to search for the rear-naked choke, and at one point it almost looked like he had it, but Luque slipped out and moved to top position. Luque immediately locked in a D’Arce choke, and Chiesa was forced to tap out.
WINNER: Vicente Luque by D’Arce choke at 3:25 of Round 1
This fight was a ton of fun for its short duration. One mistake on the ground was all it took for Luque to capitalize with the D’Arce choke, and this actually marked his fourth D’Arce choke finish in the UFC. Luque has been one of the welterweight divsion’s most entertaining fighters for quite some time, but with his last two wins (over Tyron Woodley and Michael Chiesa respectively), he has officially moved into title contention. Luque has won 10 of his last 11 fights, and he called out Kamaru Usman in his post-fight interview, who seemed agreeable to that matchup in the future with his response on Twitter.
JOSE ALDO (29-7, 136) VS PEDRO MUNHOZ (19-5, 1 NC, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Aldo got a big reaction from the Houston crowd. Munhoz was throwing a lot of leg kicks in the opening minutes, but a significant amount of them was checked by Aldo. Aldo connected with a vicious knee up the middle, and he began to dig into the body with his punches. Munhoz was loading up on some big swings that were just missing their target. Aldo ended the round with a strong uppercut. 10-9 Aldo, but a close round.
Munhoz landed a left hook to begin round two. There were some very impressive exchanges in the opening minutes of the round, with both fighters landing some heavy punches. Aldo was still attacking the body in flurries while Munhoz was investing in those leg kicks, but as Cormier pointed out on commentary, Munhoz wasn’t putting a ton behind those kicks after having so many of them checked earlier. 20-18 Aldo.
Aldo really began to unload in the third round, and his hand speed was something to behold here. Munhoz missed on a tornado kick attempt. Aldo tripled up on his jab, before landing a three-piece combination that landed hard. Munhoz responded with a right hand but was promptly dropped by a leg kick, and tagged by a hard right hook as he picked himself up. Munhoz was cut open beneath his left eye, as Aldo let loose with some brutal combinations in the final minutes of the bout. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 for Jose Aldo.
WINNER: Jose Aldo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Jose Aldo looked tremendous here, throwing heated combinations with remarkable accuracy for fifteen minutes, while showcasing impressive striking defense, and setting a new personal record for significant strikes landed in a fight. His cardio has been one of his enemies in the past, so seeing Aldo fight this aggressively for fifteen minutes was rather unexpected, but certainly a good sign for his future at bantamweight. He has now won his last two fights in the division and really isn’t that far off from another title fight. Rob Font and T.J. Dillashaw are probably the two most sensible options if he’s looking to get back to a title fight as soon as possible, but I maintain that this would be the perfect time to do Jose Aldo versus Dominick Cruz, with both all-time greats coming off wins and sharing the same division.
DERRICK LEWIS (25-7, 1 NC, 264.5) VS CIRYL GANE (9-0, 247) – INTERIM UFC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
This crowd was here to see Derrick Lewis, and he got a hero’s reception as he walked out to the octagon. They touched gloves to begin the fight, and Gane quickly took the center of the octagon. Lewis slipped on a head kick attempt and ate a right hand on his way up. Gane landed a series of leg kicks, and Lewis did not appear to have many answers for Gane’s earlier offense. Three minutes into the fight, Lewis landed his first strike and followed it up with a kick to the groin. When the action resumed, Lewis attempted to flurry forward but didn’t land anything, and Gane was able to reset quickly. Gane ended the round strongly, landing a strong leg kick, as well as a hard jab that bothered Lewis.
Lewis’s output did not pick up in the second round, and Gane continued to pick away at him from the outside. The commentary team stated that Lewis caught Gane with an eye poke, which would have marked his second one of the fight. Lewis attempted to wrap Gane up against the cage, but Gane appeared to be the more powerful fighter in that position, reversing things quickly. This was not the most entertaining round, but another clear five minutes for Ciryl Gane.
Gane attacked Lewis’s lead leg in the opening minute of the third round. Gane’s movement was giving Lewis trouble, and even as Lewis moved forward, he was unable to get off any offence. Gane defended a takedown attempt and landed another hard leg kick that backed Lewis up. Gane knew Lewis was hurt at this point, and he just began to swarm him with strikes against the cage. Lewis was shelling up, just looking to survive, but Gane landed a right hook that sent Lewis down to a knee, and followed it up with a knee to the head as Lewis picked himself up. For a second, it looked as though Lewis just might survive this flurry, but Gane slapped him with a head kick, before backing him up with a sharp jab. Lewis went down and shelled up near the cage, and Gane threw down hooks until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Ciryl Gane by TKO at 4:11 of Round 3 to win the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship
There are few instances in MMA history in which a crowd has been so deflated by a result. This was a complete shutout from Ciryl Gane, who limited Derrick Lewis to less than ten significant strikes throughout a fourteen-minute fight, and really just dominated this fight before ultimately finishing Lewis towards the end of the third round. Since his UFC debut in 2019, people have predicted Gane’s ascent to the top of the division, but I don’t know how many people can say that they expected him to have a championship wrapped around his waist in less than two years. Now, regardless of what the UFC says, I don’t think there is any dispute to the legitimacy of Francis Ngannou’s status as the undisputed heavyweight king, but I think Gane has a very good chance in that fight, and it is, to me, far and away the most intriguing fight to make in that division right now. For Lewis, this was a very tough loss, in which he never really got off any offense of significance, which has been an unfortunate pattern to some of the biggest fights of his career. Still, he remains an incredibly popular fighter, and it won’t take much for him to return to title contention at heavyweight.